“Without Fleming, no Chain; without Chain, no Florey; without Florey, no Heatley; without Heatley, no penicillin.”
Ask people about the discovery of penicillin and the majority picture Alexander Fleming making his momentous breakthrough alone, in his laboratory with only a petri dish of mould for company. The reality of course was much much complex and it was only through collaboration and networking that penicillin could be brought to the bedside where it could benefit patients directly. Indeed, Sir Henry Harris, when giving his view on the discovery of penicillin, perhaps put it most eloquently with the quote above.
So what is networking and how can it benefit paediatricians in academia?
Networking can be defined as the use of both formal and informal connections between groups of colleagues to help develop and progress your career. It can be as simple as asking a senior clinician for advice about a patient to something as complex as conducting research on separate sites which will ultimately lead to a joint publication.
There are several ways in which paediatricians can network. Talking to colleagues with similar interests is perhaps the simplest way to start. The value of social media cannot be underestimated and the way in which scientists use social media for academic purposes was recently featured in an issue of Nature. Perhaps though, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and academic conferences certainly have their place.
Academic conferences offer the opportunity to meet other people in your field, discuss and generate research proposals and enable that fantastic idea to reach its full potential. We are organising the annual Academic Paediatric Association conference, being held on March 26th/27th in Leeds which will bring academic paediatricians from all around the country together for two days. Why not start your networking here?
David King & William Daw